Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Yay! Andrew (brother-in-law) has now given in to the Blogger phenomenon, which means he finally has a new site. I expect a whole lot of updatin', now!

Or maybe I don't, considering how soon you lot are moving and stuff.
Today I saw a house for sale that I now crave. I have no illusions that I can actually have it, considering my "income," but I can still fantasize. I jogged over the river today into the half of the park where I don't go as often. I climbed down through the trees to the riverbank (where several of the giant carp I previously saved were cavorting sluggishly, as is their wont.) Across the river I could see a few little docks amongst the foliage, where people's lots back onto the river.

I decided I'd go back across the river and up that street (just for the heck of it) to see how those riverbank folk live, but from the front. It's a nice neighborhood, part of the "historic district." Of course there just had to be a house for sale (by owner) on the first block, so I sneaked around the lot just to imagine myself in it. It's a brick house, with a big tree-riddled yard that is quite overgrown in places, and at the back slopes steeply down to the river. I picture trimming away the underbrush and saplings to have an unobscured path down to the river, where I could have a canoe. I imagine my morning routine including feeding not only the squirrels and arboreal birds, but ducks! (And most likely, giant carp.)

I called the automated info-number when I got home, which informed me further that the house has newly refinished hardwood floors and a fireplace. And "old-world charm," whatever that might be. However, I am so uninformed about the house market in general that I couldn't tell whether the price they mentioned was in--thousands? Tens of thousands? Binary? What? Why can't they just say exactly what the price is ("nine hundred thousand dollars!") instead of this weird euphemistic numeric code ("twelve, fifty-four, eight!" ["hut!"])—-what the hell is that supposed to mean? None of those are the actual numbers the recording said, of course.

I wonder if it would be even close to feasible to pay on something like that instead of paying rent. What if I rented half of it to one of the newer PhD students, or something...

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Squirrel mischief!


Monday, June 28, 2004

Yesterday as Simon drove us back from his place to mine, I had one of those fleeting experiences where life was balanced on the knife-edge of perfection, where my template of ideal matched up with reality with no deviation. It was just ordinarily beautiful: we drove along the winding asphalt through fields and woods in the twilight, I glimpsed a distant deer, Simon sang happily along with his Waterboys CD, and I had everything I've ever wanted. I wasn't trying to do anything or be anything, I wasn't waiting for anything to happen or stop happening, it was just the present, and it was so powerfully gorgeous it made me weep a few tears. Existing that firmly in the moment may be too much to do on a daily basis. Simon asked, either diplomatically or obliviously, "Have you got something in your eye?" I laughed and replied that I did not.

Today I saw him off with a pot of tea and some whole-wheat toast with Marmite (it's $4 for 4 ounces over here) as well as a little travel kit I packed with hangover remedies. Later today he will leave from work for the airport, whereupon I will be Britless for the next ten days, as he is going on a hiking tour of Scotland with some friends from home. Personally, I think he's just trying to avoid being around on July 4th, since every year he hears the same lame joke at work: "You don't get the 4th of July off--you're English!" He will return just in time to be temporarily ignored by me, as it will be the day I am (likely) defending my thesis, and I imagine I will be frantic.

This absence means that I will have to find someone to hang out with next weekend. I love seeing the fireworks: I love 4th of July. It's the height of summer. If I weren't defending my thesis a few days later, I'd consider a last-minute trip out of town somewhere, if my credit card could take it…Hmmm….

We were checking out various travel possibilities online yesterday, including the train. I would love to ride around this country on a train as I did Europe last year. (Only maybe in less of a hurry.) The train is expensive, but not horribly expensive, unless you get a sleeper: then it's quite pricey. But I guess you would be saving on motel bills, so…it might even out. Even better would be to own one's own train car and hook it to Amtrak and ride around for a few weeks. Now that would be cool.

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Incredibly depressing: one of my committee members now wants to delay my defense at least a week, because I didn't formally attach a segment of the document that he already read. This means that I probably won't be able to defend until, like September or something because of the members' various vacation schedule incompatibilities. Dangit, why does he have to be the one holdout? After I worked so incredibly hard to get the whole damn thing done in time for them to have it two weeks in advance-- last week.

I guess ultimately it doesn't matter, (and in 15 billion years the sun will burn out, etc.) but I am really, really tired of being a fourth year doctoral student who doesn't even have a master's yet.

It's mainly the part where I was just about there, and then it was yanked away all of a sudden from an unexpected source.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Trying to figure out whether to allow my Geocities account to lapse. I realized I mainly use it for an image source/storage thing anyway, but I do like having ""

The story is not only complicated, but dumb. I have been trying to get rid of my original Geocities site for 2 years (ever since I developed a stalker and created as a second site).

However, Yahoo has me all sewn up, because whenever I try to access my account information, it tells me there is some damn error. The same damn (unspecified) error every time, in fact. So unless I allow the entire account to lapse, including Doctorlizardo, I am pretty much stuck with the unwanted account, too.

So. They recently sent me a notice that the domain was about to expire, so I paid up. Weird thing is, they then sent a completely different type of notice, from a different Yahoo [Yahpoo] division, about the original (unwanted) domain name, saying they were about to charge me automatically and renew it if the "wallet" info was correct.

But I don't want it!

So I thought I might just try changing my "wallet" information so the site couldn't renew itself against my will, but...more Yahpoo errors now say I don't have the right kind of (expensive-er) account to access my own information, that I can see plainly there right on the screen. What a rip-off. In order to edit my "wallet" information so I can spend less money, I have to sign up for more expensive service!

Friday, June 18, 2004

Sent off the thesis to my committee members. My advisor called this morning with very few revisions and said it looked good. The defense is in 13 days, so I am sending it out only 1 day late. (Whew!) After years of work, that doesn't seem too bad. I'm happy to have actually found some results, even if they weren't exactly the ones I was looking for, which is typical of research anyway.

So when my defense date comes, if anyone wants to send me flowers or a nice, artfully arranged basket of (live) lab rats, I will accept them graciously as is my due, for then I will be the Supreme Galactic Mistress of Science!! (Simon suggested the "Galactic" part. Come to think of it, he also suggested the "Supreme" part!)

I feel pretty tired after being up all night finishing it, but that's fine. I treated myself today by ordering from Amazon a brand-new scratch-and-sniff book and two used children's books ($20). I do feel a little guilty, because I actually have negative $250 in the bank at present, but if I don't reward myself when I do my masters thesis, then when the heck would I?
I finally did it--I just sent in my first complete draft of my thesis! I'm in my advisor's office, having walked through Ypsi at 2am in order to send it. But I did it!

I didn't realize how triumphant I would feel at this point. I've been working on this thing for two years now, and it's always been just one incremental step after another, week after week after week. And this past week has been draft after draft of the thesis results proper.

I was just thinking of this as "Draft #7." Until I actually put that final word down on the--well, I guess the hard drive, not the paper. Then as I got up and started to change into outdoor clothes to come here, I suddenly realized that this was my first complete draft. I've actually written a thesis! Yippee! I feel I should be celebrating or something. True, I will probably have revisions to do all day tomorrow when my advisor calls me, but--this is the first time I've had "The End" mentally on the paper. Now I actually have something upon which to base my presentation at the APA convention in July.

My thesis defense will be in two weeks: July 1st. I will definitely have to celebrate after that...or else console myself. (Either way, there will be some kinda doin's a-transpirin'.) Oh, I'm sure my defense will go much as other people's have been going, which is that their committee members have them make a few revisions, or something.

I'm greatly looking forward to finally getting my Mistress of Science degree.

This is the first time I've felt a sense of accomplishment, that I can remember, since my first week here. I didn't even realize how little reinforcement I'd been getting for all this dang work I do, until tonight. (Talk about your lean reinforcement schedules!) That overused cliché phrase about walking taller? Well, tonight on the way here I could actually feel myself walking taller, and it wasn't just a cliché. I realized how slumped over and burdened and somehow unworthy I've been feeling. Boy, is the night air sweet tonight.

Well, time to go home and sleep for a while until my advisor calls me with the revisions in the morning. Maybe I can actually do the dishes and laundry that have been piling up since last weekend, before I go away again this weekend. Today, I unpacked [dumped out] my overnight bag from last weekend, so I guess tomorrow I'll pack it right up again! Hopefully with cleaner clothes.
Here, I've changed the time-signature on this entry just so it falls below the one I just wrote. It's actually 2:47ish or something. God, must go home!! It's just so fun to play guiltlessly for once after how I've been living and breathing thesis-writing for the past week straight.

In that vein, I thought I'd at least post the final paragraph of the darn thing. Once I pin all the parts together, including the math/statistics analyses charts, the references, and so on, it'll probably still be less than a hundred pages. Oh well. Anyway, here's me (it'll probably get revised tomorrow/today, anyway, but what the heck):


Overall, an important concept conveyed by these results is that despite efforts by many organizations to impart nutritional information to the public, it seems we are not listening by and large. The participants in this study appeared to mostly ignore actual nutrition when selecting food in order to conform to gender roles correlating with their sex. Instead of viewing food as nutritional components contributing to overall diet, we are still looking at food as individual items and giving those items value judgments. In the case of this study, the value judgment that arose was that of food items being gendered. In any case, non-nutritional traits attributed to food items may confuse the kinds of choices individuals make regarding food choices, leading to less-than-optimal nutrition.

Thursday, June 17, 2004

This morning when I had my "run" it was beautifully misty and rainish in the park. Now that it's too warm to wear my jogging pants, I wore The World's Dorkiest Shorts, which are basically a pair of poofy black cotton-knit pants cut off raggedly just above the knee. What made things even better was the fact that I also wore black socks. Wow!

Well, at least the park itself was still very beautiful. The river has been very full this season, and there was a big blue heron-y kind of thing standing stock-still on the riverbank, silently hunting for fish. An old fisherguy came up to me to discuss the "kingfisher," which it most definitely was not (although I have seen a kingfisher there).

He mentioned recently seeing a squirrel swimming across the river. I wish I could have seen that! However, I did get to see the local Northern Flicker, which I usually only see as a flash of white back-feathers when I unwittingly startle it out of the grass into the trees. This time I got to watch it hunting for bugs in the grass for a good long time, and then drinking from a puddle. It lifted its head up with each sip to allow the water to drain down its little throat.

My back is starting to hurt again after all this intensive writing—-that lowest vertebra is all crookedy and sends twinges down my legs. Must figure out a way to get to my chiropractor, whom I like a lot but is in a town about 20 minutes away. For a car-free person such as me, this might as well be on the moon. Alternatively, I could find a local chiro and have my records sent. But—-I hate switching doctors. I like the guy I was seeing! And since I already had the initial visit, an adjustment is only $40 or $50.

Come to think of it, I hate switching services in general, to which my ever-unchanging email address will attest.
As I have been working on writing up my research, I have begun to go through some strange things psychologically. It is kind of a crucible, in that it burns away so many other events and activities, both internal and external. In order to do the work, there has to be a certain amount of being alone, secluding oneself whether physically or mentally or both. It is kind of a magnifying glass, in that every possible bad habit I ever thought I could evade, slither by, or work despite, has ended up taking center stage. And yet...

The "and yet" part is that it turns out that this is exactly what anyone doing graduate work goes through, therefore I am exactly where I am supposed to be. Even though I am late (as of today, now that we've set a date for my defense) in turning my manuscript in to my thesis committee, even though I am on "Version 6" (Version 1 was only last week!) and it's still only 24 pages long (though dense), even though I can't tell if my advisor is sick of me and my project or if I'm sick of her and her project (the same project, of course, poor lady!)—I'm definitely moving forward, and this is what people do in this situation. It's a condensed mini-version of all of life’s struggles.

What I mean by that is, the goal is not to avoid having any problems, or bad feelings, but to recognize them, deal with them, and to do the work anyway. If I waited every day until I felt "inspired" to write, then I might have written half a page in the last month*. Maybe. If I waited until things were going smoothly to go forward, I would never go forward.

Every important thing in life tends to inspire ambivalent feelings. Since I'm trying to concentrate on the "pro-writing" impulses, naturally the ones that stand out to me are all the "anti-writing" impulses. It's like martial arts—-if there was nothing to struggle against, I would fall over (mentally speaking). What I mean by that is if someone took away my ability to write right now, if they told me that I'd been booted from the program for some reason, or I temporarily lost my sight, or I had a bunch of urgent class work to get done instead, I would then be experiencing only the "pro-writing" feelings and be suddenly very inspired!

Hmmm... this suggests that if I could convince myself that I am not supposed to be writing, I might feel very inspired and get a lot more done. However, it's nearly impossible to do a paradoxical intervention (read: "reverse psychology") on oneself, because you always know what you’re really trying to do.

*Clients frequently tell me that they wish they felt more “motivated,” and I have to give them the news that most people do most things while only occasionally feeling motivated.

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

You think you live in the library. (And so did I.) Now here's a lifestyle that appeals to me in an eccentric, spartan way. What was that book I read as a kid, The Crazy Mixed-Up Files of ...Somebody...Basil...Rottweiler...Whatsit...?

After reading the FAQ I hesitated to post (and hence publicize) this link, but then I saw the recent update in which he now is living in an actual "place," so I won't be further exposing his furtive living situation.
Satire or advertisement?! I really can't tell. However, each entry ends with a link to a product. Could still be satire, nevertheless. What's extra funny is the entries that have excerpts from stuffy literature. I think "How To Play Soccer" is my favorite so far. how come when I look at my profile, my average posts per week come to zero, but this guy [read: commercial robot] who started this month and has fewer entries, shows more?

Yeah, I think it is a big sneaky ad blog.

Anyway, I choose to read it as satire.

And now, back to temporarily tranquilizing the thesis monkey on my back...

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Currently in full thesis-writing mode, including still having dishes from last Friday night in sink. Relieved I live alone, for this reason.

Research inspiration book sez: "This is not the year to get a puppy or sign up for a committee [and list of other things including, like, laundry, I think]. Have someone else do your cooking, cleaning, etc., even if you have to pay them." Well, that glorious day will have to come later, when I get autumn installment of student loan. (If financial aid decides that my not being registered for any classes doesn't matter...) ARG!

Too much outgo required right now, not enough income. In many domains. Especially sleep, money, social life, work. Good thing I got that jar of blackstrap molasses to cure my recurring anemia! [pats self on back]

...two woodpeckers at once on suet feeder today!! Possibly male & female downies. Hard to see through blinds, but making loud "GRIK! GRIIK!" calls.

More some other day/week...

PS: While rest of Michigan watching important basketball event over weekend, watched England vs. France Euro-cup-thingamabob. Wore Union Jack top for festive air. However, glum outcome for the guys invested in...the outcome. (But rare opportunity to wear red pants!) Also developed strange bruises over weekend: hip, shoulder, head, noticeable one on jawline. ??!! Perhaps linked to gin/red wine on Saturday night? Or to subsequent aspirin deluge on Sunday...?

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Nonwords...I have been making a little list of nonexistent "words" that I've heard people say. (Very compulsive of me, I know.) I can tell from their pronunciation exactly how they think the word is actually spelled, too. (The example sentence isn't necessarily what the speaker originally said.)

subline: "That was a subline experience."
paradign: "We're working from a different paradign here."
pneumonics: "I used pneumonics to remember it."
expedentially: "The problem grows expedentially larger each day."
Amsel Adams: (No sentence necessary.)
ideal (used in place of "idea"): "I had an ideal that it would turn out like this."

Definitions, anyone?

There are four baby squirrels in the locust tree across from my bedroom window. Probably about six or seven weeks old, still with big heads and skinny tails. They swarm and hop awkwardly throughout the tree's higher branches, their wide eyes somehow managing to simultaneously convey both dazed daffiness and mischief.

I like to think I contributed to their existence, since I fed their mother while she was pregnant. So they're kind of my grandkids, in a furry little way. The bad thing is I haven't made the four-hour trek to Meijer in over a month, so I have been out of peanuts for several weeks now. Must get peanuts soon so I can establish relationship with new squirrels!!

This morning my [house] apartment is covered in a fine black grit. Well, not so much "this morning," but rather "of late," since there has been massive construction on my street ever since the snow mostly melted, which wasn't as long ago as one might think—-but I digress. I guess I should go around and clean it all off, but it just appears again instantly. Also, any kind of home maintenance is second or third priority right now, unless it's something overtly dangerous or smelly.

This week I am trying to finish (yet another) draft of the results section for my thesis, so I can defend this puppy soon and finally get going on my dissertation. I also finally completed four or five satisfying hours of filing last night that had been accumulating (in some cases) since over a year ago. Usually I play catch-up on those kinds of things at each academic break, but the events last summer pretty much knocked the world out from under me for a while, and then I was going to get back on track over winter break, and you know what was going on it's nice to finally feel on an even keel again. I even got to take all the class binders out of my bookcase and replace them with the textbooks that had been lying in piles on the floor for months!

One of the things I discovered in a pile of neglected papers was a credit report featuring two mysterious items that may explain why my credit rating dropped for no reason recently.

One item was (and of COURSE it just had to be back to haunt me) the business with Eastern in which they had mis-entered both my birth date AND my social security number into their system, thus making the national loan registry think I was not actually in school, and therefore must be defaulting on my student loans. It took me SEVEN MONTHS to get that fixed, and it didn't actually get changed until I had kind of a yelling meltdown in the registrar's office. Note that this is extremely rare for me, but nothing else had worked.

"Well, if the information is wrong," the student employee behind the desk said accusingly, (this after six months of my visiting the office, and them assuring me they were about to go fix it that day, and then not doing it, until the day I noticed that the interest on all my credit cards went up,) "then you'll have to go get your [what was it—-birth certificate? Passport? Social security card? I can't remember] and bring it in, and do this, and do that...blah blah blah...

I finally told them in an angry, loud, and shaking voice that it was their mistake, that I had sent in all the necessary required ID when I applied at the dang school in the first place, that copies would already be in my file if they would bother to just look at it for once!! —and so on.

So they took me somewhere where there was a chair (to halt my frothing) and finally actually looked in my file, saw that I was right, changed the information, and even made a few phone calls on my behalf. (Only took six or seven months and some yelling.)

I had to go through variations of this at several different offices across EMU's campus, since once the faulty information had been disseminated, it couldn't be "taken back" without considerable effort on my part. In fact, for my first three years here, I could not check out materials from the library because there had been such a mess made of my ID, including yet another individual (that makes three!) entering my student ID number wrong on the electronic strip of my ID card.

The situation was never fixed, although on four separate occasions different people thought they had fixed it for me. So while all the other grad students were happily (?) checking things out, getting interlibrary loans, and requesting documents from distant storage, I was doing my research for the most part without those things. What ended up happening to change it was that EMU switched to another system in which someone actually entered my ID correctly so that now, in my fourth year, I am finally able to check out books!

Too bad my classes are over and I am beginning teaching, because now they are denying my checkout rights on the basis that I am not registered for classes next autumn. >sigh<

So anyway, after the little frothing incident at the registrar's office, I received a letter from Direct Loans telling me that the problem had "been taken care of" and all negative information had been removed from my credit report. (I gleefully posted this letter on the door of my office.) So it just figures that it would be back now, and now I'll probably have to fight each individual credit bureau separately for another six months about it. Again.

The other item is a "new" $150 delinquent account from SBC. This is very odd, since I don't think I have had any account go delinquent in maybe a decade. There are no bills I have been ignoring. Also, I have no cable anything (internet, TV, etc.)—I don't even have a landline phone. What would I have an SBC account for? So that definitely sounds like a screw-up of some kind. Great, just what I need—-more help with screwing up my credit rating! More hours of phone calls to skeptical bill-collectors!

Combined with the recent screw-up at the IRS in which they lost my pathetic $103 money order and are now trying to make me pay it twice (the money order company shows it as having been cashed, of course,) I have had to spend a lot of woman-hours just fixing dumb mistakes that other people have made, that have made my life a lot harder. (And why, might I ask, are these errors never biased in my favor? As a statistician of sorts, I must say that the probability of that seems a bit low.) What happens to people who don't even understand their credit, or are afraid to complain about stuff?

This, folks, is the exact reason that I will not be happy the day they decide to give us implanted chips /barcode tattoos attached to some kind of national database with our personal /medical /academic /financial information. (As much as I like the idea of the convenience and simplicity.) Because the unfortunately dyslexic people at Eastern (and maybe the IRS too, I guess) who should clearly have some other job besides entering my personal numeric information into sensitive systems that affect my entire life, are now out on the streets looking for jobs entering your personal numeric information into even bigger sensitive systems that will affect your entire life.

This is also the reason I end up just standing outside, feeding the squirrels, drooling softly and staring walleyed into the distance...

Thursday, June 03, 2004

Ahh, I love webcounters with accompanying stats and other geekitry*. Some of the results seriously puzzle me, however.

Three different IP addresses found a particular page of my home site by searching google images for gerbils. Three different IP addresses, within a day or so. Now, what on earth possessed these individuals to all go looking for gerbil pix on the internet at the same time? There must be a connection. ("Hey, look, I found this great picture of a gerbil." --or alternatively, "Hey, does this look like a gerbil to you? Because I think it's a guinea pig.")

While sleepily watching the Sci-Fi channel (also known as the "All-Stargate Channel") last weekend at Simon's (because he actually has cable), I realized that I missed my true calling in life. Instead of a psychologist, I should have been a sci-fi-atrist. WAH ha ha ha! Snif.

(I crack me up.)

Oh yeah, there's another movie on my movies page. I'm an avi-makin' fool. Other graduate students working on their research have exceptionally clean, well-organized houses as a result of procrastination. Me? I suddenly discover hidden uses of old applications.

*PS: No way! Someone besides Argotnaut who uses Opera! Wow--you really *are* a geek.

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

Foreign food links...mostly Scandinavian.

I've spent more time than I care to admit searching for various forms of Norwegian (and some other European) foods online. I'm just grateful that now there actually is an Internet! (Strange to think there wasn't, when I first returned, and I would have had to laboriously look up specialty food stores in the phone books of other states or something.)

I've placed the Norwegian one I like best on my Blogroll. I like it best because of product range and because it offers a wishlist!

So, links first, then wishlist. --A list of food links.

Norwegian Catalogs --A list of catalog links.

Google Scandinavian Search --Google's hot picks, as it were.

Wired News: Homesick and Hungry --A good place to start searching for many foreign and regional foods.

Nordic House
My favorite. It allows a wishlist! See below. (Not because I really expect people to buy and send me Norwegian food products, but because it's can I resist the opportunity to make a list of something?! With links and pictures?)

My Wish List at NordicHouse

Product: Nidar Gullbroed - 65 Gr.

Mmmm...marzipan in dark chocolate.

Product: Freia Daim - 28 Gr.

A lot like a Heath bar, also known as a "Health" bar in my family. This used to be spelled "Dajm" in the olden days when I was a youngster...

Product: Nordic - Pep's - 4 Oz.

You know--minty things.

Product: Laban Seigmenn Gummi: - 180 Gr.
Details: Men

They have Seigmenn and Seigwomenn.

Product: Freia Kvikklunsj - 34 Gr.

In Norwegian, this means exactly what it looks like it would mean: "Quick Lunch." That's right, eat a candy bar for a quick lunch.

Product: Saturnus Gloegg Mix - 17 Oz.

Mixed with red wine and warmed--delicious on winter evenings! I looked for this particular brand for a long time.

...And while I'm on a roll, so to speak, I have also placed my wishlist on my blogroll. Mainly because I think you can tell a great deal about a person by looking at their wishlist. (If they bother to fill it out...>ahem< you know who you are!)

Oo! I love Blogrolling. (See sidebar.) Even though it doesn't seem to like Scandinavian characters...

Thanks, ArgotNaut, for always trying out cool new internetty stuff I can then steal and appear all sophisticated.

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

I posted a new movie on my main site today. It's extremely realistic. Try not to be tricked by its surpassing realness!

I believe that if this whole clinical psychology thing falls through, I may well have a lucrative career in the new "actorless films" that are sure to begin appearing as we move further into the 21st century.

Well, back to the dang dissertation prospectus I've been working on all weekend, and was supposed to have finished by this morning...sigh...